Toskala still adapting to life as a Leaf

LANCE HORNBY -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:20 AM ET

Vesa Toskala says he's getting used to the highs and lows as a Maple Leaf, the frustration, the adulation and the media huddled at his stall every day like a rush hour bus shelter in Helsinki.

But he could really get used to the way his and the team's goals against has begun dropping, from an embarrassing league-high last week to a tie for 27th before yesterday (3.08). Led by Toskala, the Leafs have given up just 10 goals in the past six games.

CATCHING THE BREAKS

Toskala knew things had turned around for sure on Monday night against Tampa, when he lost his stick in a crease collision and the Lightning player trailing the play put an empty-net shot off his discarded lumber. The Leafs broke open the goalless game just a few moments later.

"The puck is really bouncing for us," Toskala said. "And we're getting some funny goals and bounces off the boards.

"That's good, because at first, everything like that was ending up in the back of our net. But all those (goals-against) statistics go hand in hand with winning. In a few games, we were giving up seven goals and that made it look worse."

There is an outside chance that Toronto coach Paul Maurice might use this weekend's back-to-back games to scrape the rust off of No. 2 goalie Andrew Raycroft, but if Toskala plays both Atlanta and Montreal, he'll likely get all three Southeast Division games next week.

Toskala visibly cringed in his first few days of training camp when he'd come off the ice and face a battery of cameras. He lived most of his NHL life in tandem with San Jose's Evgeni Nabokov, whose Sharks now lead the NHL with a 2.11 GAA. In their two-paper, non-hockey town, a scrum consisted of two beat reporters.

"It's been a learning process," Toskala said. "It's much more fun when you're winning, but you can still enjoy a game when you are losing."

Raycroft won't rock the boat now that he's in a No. 2 mode and though he and Toskala do not kibitz in adjoining lockers at the Air Canada Centre or Lakeshore Lions Arena, they share a private word on the ice after every game.

"We're all professionals here," Toskala said.


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